Les Carnets Du Cardinal Baudrillart (1914-1918)

Article excerpt

Les Carnets du Cardinal Baudrillart (1914-1918). Texte presente, etabli et annote par Paul Christophe. (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf. 1994. Pp. 1047. 210FE)

Paul Christophe notes that the direct collaboration of Cardifall Baudtillart (1859-1942) with the Germans during World War II (a la Marechal Petain) has cast this important figure in French and church history in a bad light. Hence, his low profile from the perspective of historians.

Alfred Baudrillart, from a French family engaged in politics, literary and scientific endeavors, experienced the War of 1870, followed a priestly vocation, and studied under some of the most brilliant French intellectuals before embarking on a teaching career. In 1883, he began to work at the Institut catholique in Paris, received a doctorate in 1890, and entered the Oratoite as a novice. Ordained a priest in 1893, he took the chair of modern history at the Institut the following year. He became the director in 1907, a position he held throughout the war.

In these memoirs Baudrillart comments on World War I as "a mirror of the moral chaos of France." He reveals his private ambitions: to be the superior general of the Oratoire; to be a member of the Academie francaise (cherished even as a child); to be a bishop--and then his constant self-minder that he should not be wishing for these material goals. This complex personality offers fascinating observations on his travels to Rome and visits with the Pope (he disliked the papal ambivalence on the war) and with Gasparri, to Spain ("a country of utter chaos"), and to the front lines in Alsace.

The American reader will be most interested in his travelogue on the United States, which culminates in a meeting with President Wilson. …